SCOTLAND's police chief has urged the SNP to use its general election landslide to bring an end VAT payments crippling his force.

In an unusual political call, Sir Stephen House said he hoped the party could use its new Westminster influence to stop tax payments that this year will amount to double a predicted funding gap.

Police Scotland is this financial year due to pay around £24m in value-added tax on goods and services it buys, despite the fact that no other UK force has to do so.

Sir Stephen has long railed against the VAT payments, which Police Scotland pays because the UK Treasury has not seen fit to add the force - or is sister fire and rescue service - to a list of exempted public bodies.

The bill, after all, comes as he has admitted he will need to adopt as yet unspecified "extreme measures" to meet an expected budget shortfall of £11m. Such measures are expected to have frontline impact.

But his new and highly political tone was designed to send a message to both Holyrood and Westminster.

Citing other national bodies given VAT exemptions, he said: "I know there are people from the Treasury who will come up with explanations as to why we're slightly different, but looking at the simple fairness of it, it does not add up.

"We look to the Government to make use of the mandate they've been given by the Scottish public, and it's a mandate that's hard to deny with 56 MPs out of 59.

"I'm not suggesting this is the first thing they should be asking, but I'd like it to be on their list.

Sir Stephen was speaking at the annual conference of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents (Asps).

That body's president, Chief Superintendent Niven Rennie, told Justice Secretary Michael Matheson: "This is a ludicrous and unjustifiable VAT bill from the Palace of Westminster and I hope the 56 MPs from your party embedded in its walls will have clout."

Sir Stephen - in front of more than 100 delegates at the conference - quizzed Mr Matheson on how likely the SNP was to secure concessions on VAT.

Mr Matheson was unable to make a prediction. He said: "This is not something that requires a change in legislation. It can be changed by a stroke of the pen by the chancellor. We are not going to let up on this issue."

He added that that the UK Government had previously added other new bodies, such as controversial "Academy" schools, to the list of exempted bodies.